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Kingdom of Nauvoo: Book summary and reviews of Kingdom of Nauvoo by Benjamin E. Park

Kingdom of Nauvoo

The Rise and Fall of a Religious Empire on the American Frontier

by Benjamin E. Park

Kingdom of Nauvoo by Benjamin E. Park X
Kingdom of Nauvoo by Benjamin E. Park
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About this book

Book Summary

An extraordinary story of faith and violence in nineteenth-century America, based on previously confidential documents from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Compared to the Puritans, Mormons have rarely gotten their due, often treated as fringe cultists or marginalized polygamists unworthy of serious examination. In Kingdom of Nauvoo, Benjamin E. Park excavates the brief, tragic life of a lost Mormon city, demonstrating that the Mormons are essential to understanding American history writ large. Using newly accessible sources, Park recreates the Mormons' 1839 flight from Missouri to Illinois. There, under the charismatic leadership of Joseph Smith, they founded Nauvoo, which shimmered briefly―but Smith's challenge to democratic traditions, as well as his new doctrine of polygamy, would bring about its fall. His wife Emma, rarely written about, opposed him, but the greater threat came from without: in 1844, a mob murdered Joseph, precipitating the Mormon trek to Utah.

Throughout his absorbing chronicle, Park shows that far from being outsiders, the Mormons were representative of their era in their distrust of democracy and their attempt to forge a sovereign society of their own.

35 black-and-white illustrations

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[Park] fashions a dense, exciting, and absorbing narrative of the most consequential and dramatic movement to dissent against and secede from the Constitutional republic before the Civil War." - Booklist (starred review)

"The author effectively links the Mormon critique to other dissidents, including the states' rights advocates who would lead the secessionist movement and modern-day dissidents...A welcome contribution to American religious and political history." - Kirkus Reviews

"Park, who was given extensive access to the Mormon Church's archives, entertainingly establishes this little-known Mormon settlement's proper place within the formative years of the Illinois and Missouri frontier." - Publishers Weekly

"Kingdom of Nauvoo is a fascinating account of Joseph Smith's attempt to build a 'beautiful city' for adherents to the new religion he founded: the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Benjamin E. Park's meticulously researched and gracefully written work provides a rich picture, not only of early Mormonism, but of the Jacksonian era in which the movement was born." - Annette Gordon-Reed, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Hemingses of Monticello

"Benjamin E. Park's Kingdom of Nauvoo tells the story of the city the Mormons built in Illinois before crossing the plains to Utah. Making sound use of newly available documents, Park's story exemplifies the new Mormon history at its best. The author demonstrates the importance of women―including the prophet's first wife, Emma Smith―in the shaping of Mormon history." - Daniel Walker Howe, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of What Hath God Wrought

"Mormon Nauvoo represents one of the most audacious and consequential religious experiments in US history. Using newly available sources from the men and women who staked their lives to build a new world and redeem the nation, Benjamin E. Park explores the singular interpretation of democracy and political power nourished briefly in the swampy soils of the Mississippi. This engaging study does not shy away from the controversies, the failures, and the deeply held faith that mark an astonishing moment in our past." - Laurie Maffly-Kipp, Archer Alexander Distinguished Professor, Washington University in St. Louis, and author of Setting Down the Sacred Past

The information about Kingdom of Nauvoo shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

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Author Information

Benjamin E. Park

Benjamin E. Park is assistant professor of history at Sam Houston State University. The author of American Nationalisms, he has written for the Washington Post, Newsweek, and the Houston Chronicle, and lives in Conroe, Texas.

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